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What’s With the Toothpicks?

I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.

I’m not Trying to Scare you

but if you look close enough, you will almost-instantly notice a toothpick laying so graceful and somehow, precarious in the right-hand side of a man’s mouth. Do not ask me what significance a toothpick holds when it comes to real life. I wish that I had a Ph.D in Social Behavior—then I would be glad to share this knowledge with you.

Did you know that the toothpick which was made for ONE reason that was for the owner to use to remove the food bits that had lodged in his teeth? That was the primary (and only) reason that toothpicks survive. I would wager that you have a nice decanter of toothpicks in the center of your dining room table. The perfect conversation piece or maybe the ideal ice-breaker.

“Hi, Marge. Ohh, what a cute toothpick holder. Where did you get it?” “Janet,” the best friend asks.

“Ohh, thank you, Janet. I picked that up at Shine-Ola’s Jewelry last week,” “Marge” replies and thus begins a long and happy friendship. All because of that $3.55 that “Marge” bought strictly on a whim.

Who was Behind the Toothpick

and why should I tell you? Henry Petroski is to be credited for inventing (what really amounts to) to a sharp-piece of wood about two and half inches long and shaved to a nice touch to the mouth where it rightly belongs. I never found out how much Petroski was awarded in monetary amounts, but I can wager that he never had to work again.

FACT: right now there is around 25 million toothpicks either sitting on a nice decanter (thanks to “Marge”) in any given time. And these toothpicks do not sit around idly getting fat. No sir. When a diner finishes his or her meal, the accepted manner of checking the teeth is with a nifty toothpick, certainly not the patron’s fingers. How backward.

But did you also know that during the evolution of the toothpick that began in some lumber company’s warehouse, the lowly toothpick has changed drastically, but the change only added to it’s value. Besides helping teeth to be clean, toothpicks have went to Hollywood and joined an Elite Group of celebrities who not only know all about toothpicks, but the toothpick turned into a fashion plate making the celebrity to be cooler than the average film star.

While I admit that Sylvester Stallone, the star of Rocky I-V, who also starred in Cobra as Lieutenant Marion Cobretta, let a toothpick dangle in the right side of his mouth. I found this amazing because in the high-octane fight scenes, Stallone’s toothpick never hit the floor. But my question was, did the toothpick make Stallone’s character the cool police officer who didn’t fear man of beast? I will leave this question for you to answer.

Scott Hall, once a super-star pro wrestler in the WWE as well as World Championship Wrestling once owned by billionaire, Ted Turner, always carried a toothpick and when he went into the “squared circle” to wrestle, he would always flick his toothpick to the audience and this one move went on to be Hall’s signature move.

Other notable celebrities who have held a toothpick in their mouth was: Brad Pitt; Humphrey Bogart; Glenn Ford; Steve McQueen; Robert Mitchum and others, so you see that the toothpick, although a silent ally and good prop, made the entertainment company his own territory. And now the truth is known, so the next film that you see and then see one of the stars who holds a toothpick, you will think of this hub.

And When Toothpicks Evolved

from being a stick hanging from someone’s lips, I am sure that the toothpick guru, Henry Petroski, must have had a lot of high thoughts because he knew then that the toothpick, if not changed, would be boring and the millions of Toothpick Lovers would be looking for something else to take the place of the toothpick.

Then, and just when we thought that the toothpick was growing passe,’ the sharp-thinking Toothpick Manufacturers of America, invented a delicious toothpick that was made that tasted peppermint, apple and spice. And then the toothpick was just as popular as it ever was. I think that the powers-that-be who came up with flavored toothpicks, are to be given a lot of credit and a hefty raise.

Personally, over the years, I have failed at keeping a toothpick in the right side of my mouth, but ever so often, I would bite down and a little material from the toothpick would drop to the ground. And while I worked, and my biting continued, the toothpick was thrown away. This made me sad.

In closing, I never mentioned that the toothpick has always had a tough nemesis who was ready on every hand to try and steal the toothpick’s popularity—and without any further thinking, I give you the Kitchen Match. A foe to toothpicks and cannot be messed with because we could get burned if we try.

May 10, 2019_________________________________________


Scott Hall, WWE,WCW pro wrestler used his toothpick to give him a rough image.

Scott Hall, WWE,WCW pro wrestler used his toothpick to give him a rough image.

© 2019 Kenneth Avery

Comments

Kenny Avery on May 28, 2019:

Hello, Liz -- thank you for the warm comment. Of course, toothicks are a mainstay in our country, but sadly, down-played for some reason that I do not know about.

All I know is that toothpicks do play an important role in society.

Have a safe and happy night, Liz.

Write me anytime,

Liz Westwood from UK on May 10, 2019:

The toothpick has not been as big in the UK. Though now you mention it, I do recall seeing it occasionally in films from the USA.